Treadmills at home can pose danger to kids, experts caution

A home treadmill can be a great way to kick off your fitness resolution.

But what many never consider are the potential dangers surrounding them.

Roughly 22,000 people end up in the emergency room every year, with injuries from treadmill accidents.

And while some accidents result in minor injuries, some can be more serious - even fatal.

In September 2018, tragedy struck a Pennsylvania home, when a 5-year-old boy died after getting pulled underneath a treadmill by the moving belt.

"People don't really understand how dangerous this moving belt can be.," Peter Anzalone, a safety expert at Consumer Reports, said.

Anzalone said there are several things you can do to help prevent a treadmill tragedy in your house.

It starts with placement: Give some thought to where you put the equipment.

"It's not a good idea to position a treadmill right up against a wall. If you fall and the treadmill belt continues to turn, you'll get wedged in between the wall and the treadmill," Anzalone said.

"What you need to do is keep a couple of feet on either side of the treadmill and then at least six feet behind it. So if you do fall, there's a space for you to escape."

Never allow children near a treadmill, even when you're on it.

But the best protection is the safety key. Anzalone says if it's not inserted into the machine, it won't start.

"And if you don't want your kids to get hurt around a treadmill," he explains, "take the safety key out and put it somewhere, where they can't find it."

Other safety tips: Straddle the belt until it starts, so you don't get knocked off your feet.

Keep your head up while you're moving. Looking down at your feet can actually throw you off balance.

And always use the safety clip. It attaches to your workout clothes and if you fall, the string pulls out the safety key, stopping the moving belt.

When you're finished with your workout, wait until the belt comes to a complete stop before stepping off.

Consumer Reports says good maintenance can be another key to safety. Keep the running belt aligned, the deck under the belt properly lubricated, tighten loose hardware and wipe up any sweat, especially on the hand and grip controls.

Wipe down those hand grips every time you use it.
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